Atlanta sees new wave of restaurant reopenings despite chaotic week and more dining news

The interior of the new Iberian Pig
Caption
The interior of the new Iberian Pig

Castellucci Hospitality Group has begun its staggered reopening, some restaurants violate new safety guidelines and more news from the week of June 1.

At the end of last week, metro Atlanta seemed like it was primed for a big week of restaurant, bar and nightclub reopenings, representing a big step towards a new normal as the city continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, protests erupted over the weekend in response to the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis resident who died in police custody. The weekend protests were linked with instances of violence and looting, and in response, mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms set a 9 p.m. curfew on Saturday, June 6. The curfew was extended on a nightly basis until Wednesday, June 3, when the 9 p.m. curfew was extended through Thursday and an 8 p.m. curfew issued Friday-Sunday.

The protests and resultant curfew put a damper on the reopening of bars and nightclubs, which were officially allowed to reopen on Monday, June 1, so long as they followed enhanced safety measures. The nightly 9 p.m. curfew prevented customers from visiting bars and nightclubs during their prime business hours.

In spite of everything, quite a few restaurants have reopened this week or announced plans to reopen this weekend. The Castellucci Hospitality Group has begun a staggered reopening of its restaurants, with the Iberian Pig Buckhead and Sugo reopening late last week. This week, Cooks & Soldiers, Double Zero and the Iberian Pig Decatur have all reopened for dine-in and patio service. Bar Mercado reopened yesterday in Krog Street Market for dine-in and takeout service. Its sister restaurant in the food hall, Recess, also provides dine-in service in Bar Mercado’s space. The Recess food stall facing the interior of Krog Street Market will remain closed.

In developing its reopening strategy, the restaurant group conducted a survey of diners and received more than 5,000 responses. The data from those responses has guided CHG’s staggered approach.

>> RELATED: A list of metro Atlanta restaurants that have reopened dining rooms, patios amid coronavirus pandemic

The Brick Store Pub has also reopened in downtown Decatur. The beer bar is offering dine-in service as well as patio dining. The restaurant has all-new patio furniture after selling off the old patio seating in a fundraiser for staff during the height of the coronavirus-related shutdown.

New restaurants have been announced, as well. Taco Mac will open a new location in Lawrenceville, while a Korean fried chicken restaurant called Mukja will open in Midtown later this summer, as first reported by Tomorrow's News Today.

Some restaurants have had their opening plans changed as a result of the nationwide protests. Sidepiece, the new outdoor-only concept from the team at 8Arm, pushed its opening from Thursday, June 4 to the following Wednesday. In a statement on Instagram, the restaurant's team said the move was made to allow employees to participate in the protests. Conversely, two downtown restaurants owned by Legacy Ventures were forced to close after sustaining damage related to the protests last weekend. Max's Coal Oven Pizzeria and STATS Brewpub had both been operating on a takeout-only basis, but are now closed for repairs.

Some restaurants also continue to be acutely affected by COVID-19; this week, an employee at Forza Storico tested positive for the disease. The restaurant announced on Wednesday that it would be temporarily closed to test employees and deep-clean its space. The same day, Ray's On The River had a similar announcement and response to an employee testing positive for the coronavirus.

More dining news from the week:

  • Six metro Atlanta restaurants were cited for violating the state's new, enhanced safety measures meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus. All six restaurants closed for the day voluntarily after state police responded to complaints of overcrowding though one restaurant, Escobar Lounge, was cited twice in a single 24-hour period. Read more here.
  • Many protesters have called for greater support of black-owned businesses. The AJC has compiled a list of more than 100 black-owned restaurants and other food businesses around the metro Atlanta area. See the list here.
  • An Alpharetta brewery, Currahee Brewing Company, rebranded one of its beers this week after facing social media backlash due to the name and imagery associated with the brew. In March, the company released a stout called the Boogaloo that featured an image of a man in a Hawaiian shirt. The term "boogaloo" and accompanying Hawaiian shirts are associated with a racist anti-government movement whose goal is to incite a second Civil War. Currahee Brewing has stopped selling anything with the boogaloo branding and issued apologies on social media and in a statement to the AJC. Read more here.

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